New and Old Wallpaper Printing Methods

Over the past century, there have been quite a few technological advancements in the printing industry. This has led to an increase in production of affordable Digital Custom Wallpaper and Mural Designs.

We’re going to list and describe some of the machinery and processes that ruled the printing world to explain how the products are made.


Initially developed in the mid 1980s, digital printing has forever altered printing in almost every industry, wallpaper especially. Since its invention, digital printing has made steady advances in the cost and quality of the production. Today, digital printing is better and more affordable than ever before, bringing highly detailed, vivid wallcoverings to a wide range of customers. Most all digitally printed wallpapers are created using water-based inks and a UV curing system. Traditionally printed wallcoverings (like the exquisite French scenics) were so expensive only a small handful would ever sell. Today, digitally printed wallcoverings can appear anywhere: restaurants, hotel lobbies, and your living room. In addition to large, non-repeating murals, and wallpapers for partial or complete custom room decoration, digital printing allows companies to create very small production runs, enabling designers to reach, and profit, from small niche markets never once accessible.

Digital technology also supports the printing of fabrics, fine art prints, solar shades and decorative pillows.

HP Latex 3500 Wide Format Printer

HP Latex 3500 Wide Format Printer. Digital Image. Graphcom.

All Distinctive Wallcoverings are digitally printed in the USA

Digital printing by its very nature is customized to each and every project.  When purchasing from Distinctive Wallcoverings & Decor, just select your wallpaper or mural design, the material you want it printed on and the dimensions – within a week you will be installing!  Each 24” wide panel will be cut, separated and numbered in the sequence of installation and shipped to you – there is NO waste!  Also provided are your order details, the tools you will need for installation together with hanging instructions.  Please see illustration below:

Wallpaper Application Instructions
Our digitally printed wallcoverings provide:
  1. Eco-friendly fade resistant inks that result in high print quality, color definition and consistency.
  2. No need for production to production batch numbers.
  3. Designs that can be personalized, using gradient colors with no limit to the scale.
  4. Material substrates that are easy to install and remove.
  5. Design options featuring custom wall murals and wallpapers for complete spaces.
  6. Huge variety of design categories & selections, much easier to choose than from pattern books.
  7. Substrates with superior strength and weight (GSM) compared to most conventional wallpapers: Prepasted 280 GSM, Peel & Stick 312 GSM, Fabric Texture 330 GSM and Wall Liner 280 GSM.

2. Rotary Screen Printing (OLD)

Developed in the 1950s, is printed using a roller. The mesh screen covers the roller’s exterior, with the squeegee located inside. Paper (up to 3000’ at a time) feeds through the machine, and the design is “squeezed out” of the roller, and then to a hot-air drying station before receiving it’s subsequent print color. Because the machine requires a large amount of paper, continuously fed through the machine, it’s an expensive process.

Rotary Screen Wallpaper Printing

Rotary Screen Wallpaper Printing. Digital Image from PDF. A Guide to Wallpaper Printing. Anstey


Frequently abbreviated to “flexo”, flexographic printing was developed in the 1960s. It uses a relief print process (a roller with designs elevated above the surface, similar to a rubber stamp). Developed initially for use in the wallpaper industry, flexo printing is now used in the packaging industry. Unlike other printing methods, flexo printing can use either solvent or water-based inks. To create the papers, ink is transferred from a tray onto roller via an ‘anilox’ roller, which both evens out the ink and determines the ink transfer amount. As the roller rolls, ink transfers directly onto the paper.

Flexographic Wallpaper Print Machine

Flexographic Wallpaper Print Machine. Digital Image from PDF. A Guide to Wallpaper Printing. Anstey


Gravure printing (sometimes referred to as rotogravure) developed in the 1950s and revolutionized printing. It can create very beautiful effects (translucent, watercolor images, three dimensional surfaces, as well as more opaque patterns, similar to screen printing). The printing requires highly polished steel rollers engraved with a very thin (only microns deep) copper coating. To print, the engraved roller sits partially submerged in an ink tray, and the engraved cells “fill up” with ink before rotating onto the “doctor blade” which removes all excess ink from the roller immediately before the roller meets the paper.

Gravure Wallpaper Print Machine

Gravure Wallpaper Print Machine. Digital Image from PDF. A Guide to Wallpaper Printing. Anstey

These last three printing methods are somewhat out dated, and all require the use of batch numbers as there will often be color variances from production to production.  If you use mixed batch numbers on your project you may experience inconsistent color shading.

Now enjoy this fun video that highlights just how far we’ve come with the efficiencies of printing wallpapers and murals